Regaining our balance
If a single ended cable has one conductor and a balanced cable two, what is the reason for their difference? Noise. Or, more appropriately put, the lack of it. A single ended cable is more prone to external noise than a balanced cable. And here's something to remember when you're thinking about these two types of signal conductors: the lower noise goal isn't always achieved and the results are very much system dependent. So what's a poor fellow to do? How would one know which cable is the right choice for a system? It's not always an easy question to answer because, as I mentioned, it is very much system dependent; and I do not know what your system is. Let me give you the basics so you can make an independent decision. Plus, I'll give you an easy way to tell if your system is doing what's necessary to get the lower noise results we'd like. But first let's start with the basics. The picture shows the difference between the two but if you're not up on your electronics this diagram may not make a lot of sense. Let me first tell you what you're seeing. Note the triangle shapes in the drawing. These are how we illustrate an amplifier. When we use a simple triangle the type of amplifier isn't know. Could be a power amplifier, preamplifier, tube, solid state, op amp, or just a simple gain stage as part of a bigger amplifiers. The triangle is simply a block to show some type of device. The lines connecting the triangles together describe their connection method. In a single ended cable the music travels down the center conductor, the only one in the cable. Look at the drawing and note the straight line between the two triangles. That is where the musical signal travels down. The ground, which is the other line shown, connects the chassis of the two amplifiers together (and makes a return path for the music, but that's confusing at this point). Suffice it to say the music travels down the center wire in the single ended cable. In the balanced cable, there are two conductors where the music travels. Tomorrow we'll see a bit more.
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